Meet Your 2023 Commodity Classic Speakers!
John Baranick graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in meteorology and a minor in agronomy. He has been a meteorologist with DTN since 2011 providing weather insights for clients across the aviation, transportation, energy, and agriculture industries worldwide. He is a frequent guest on ag media programs to discuss weather impacts on crops and operations both domestically and abroad. John's passion for teaching others about how weather works and the impacts it can have on commodities, markets, and infrastructure shine through his daily weather briefings, videos, and blog articles for DTN.
Certified Crop Advisor
Missy Bauer is co-owner of B&M Crop Consulting, an independent agricultural consulting company in Coldwater, Michigan. She has conducted field trials comparing performance of tar spot-tolerant hybrids and fungicides. Bauer holds a master’s degree in agronomy from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Science in crop and soil sciences from Michigan State University. She is also a field agronomist for Farm Journal.
Grain Marketing Consultant
Matt is a Windsor, Illinois farmer, co-founder of AgMarkets.net and blogger at Farmfutures.com. He adds the producer perspective to the panel, enriched with his extensive grain marketing background. Matt has been highly rated from attendees the last 5+ Commodity Classic sessions.
Senior Vice President, Agriculture, Construction and Product Leadership
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)
Blades is responsible for the strategic direction of agriculture & construction programs and services for AEM membership, and he serves as the primary liaison with ag-specific industry organizations, customer groups and government agencies, both in North America and worldwide. He also oversees the safety, sustainability, standards, and regulatory efforts for all off-road equipment supported by AEM.
Vice President of Economic Analysis
Erin joined USMEF in July 2006 after receiving her M.S. in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. She received her B.S. in Agribusiness at California Polytechnic State University. As Economist, Erin is responsible for USMEF’s red meat export forecasts, trade policy related analysis, global market analysis for U.S. exporters, and U.S. market analysis for international customers. In 2014, Erin also became Chairman of the Economics Committee for the International Meat Secretariat.
Raised on a cow/calf operation in Colorado, Erin has a background in production agriculture and a passion for the red meat industry. Working remotely for USMEF, she and her husband, Bryce Borror, along with their boys Clayton and Nolan, raise purebred and commercial cattle at Tehama Angus Ranch in northern California.
Senior Regulatory Stewardship Manager
Tony has been with Syngenta for more than 22 years. He has held various roles in Research and Development including Head of Product Biology. In his current role within the Stewardship Group, Tony focuses on the Endangered Species Act and how it intersects with pesticide registrations and subsequent consultation processes. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University where he earned his Ph.D. in Entomology.
President, CEO, Founder, Inventor
Marion Calmer, founder/owner/CEO of Calmer Corn Heads, president of Calmer’s Ag Research Center and a 1978 Black Hawk College graduate, developed the world’s first ultra-narrow row corn head and numerous other patented harvesting technologies, which have revolutionized how corn is grown and managed around the world. As a byproduct, these technologies help decrease world hunger, improve soil fertility and water quality, reduce the need for chemical weed control and increase farmer profitability.
Senior Physical Scientist
Dr. Christopher Clark is a Senior Physical Scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) in Washington, DC. He works on a variety of projects at ORD, including improving agricultural sustainability, assessing impacts from climate change and air pollution on natural ecosystems, and assessing the environmental effects from biofuels in the U.S. Dr. Clark is the overall lead for the Joint EPA-USDA Partnership and Competition on Next Gen Fertilizers to Advance Agricultural Sustainability in the United States (https://www.epa.gov/innovation/next-gen-fertilizer-challenges). The goal of the partnership is to evaluate the potential for new fertilizer technologies to help reduce the impacts from row crop agriculture on the environment, while maintaining or increasing agricultural productivity and profitability.
Custom Roto-Mold, LLC (CRM)
Corey is President of Custom Roto-Mold, LLC (CRM) located in Benson, MN. Claussen is responsible for the strategic direction of CRM. CRM is a family owned, technical custom rotational molder located in Benson, MN. Established in 1994, CRM has over 150 employees focused on providing technical rotomolding solutions by partnering with OEM’s in many business sectors including agricultural equipment.
Farmer & Professor of Weed Science
University of Georgia
Stanley Culpepper is a Professor in the Crop and Soil Science Department at The University of Georgia with a 98% Extension responsibility. A native of North Carolina, he grew up on a bicentennial family farm producing corn, cotton, peanut, soybean and wheat. He received his BS in Agronomy and his MS and PhD in weed science from N. C. State University. Stanley began his professional career at The University of Georgia as a cotton, vegetable and small grain weed scientist in 1999, and continues with those responsibilities today. Stanley’s ultimate goal is to develop and share sound science with family farms improving their sustainability.
Farmer, World Record Corn Yield Champion
Partner, Total Acre
Randy Dowdy is a first-generation corn, soybean, wheat and peanut grower from Brooks County Georgia. His philosophy is to maximize yields by minimizing stress that plants experience throughout the growing season.
America Soybean Association
Scott Gerlt is the chief economist for the American Soybean Association, where he provides policy analysis and monitors markets to guide strategic organizational decisions. Prior to joining ASA in 2020, Scott was the program leader for U.S. crop policy and analysis at the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri. His position there involved him in the 2008, 2014 and 2018 farm bill evaluations for Congress. Scott has consulted or done analysis for or consulted with USDA, OECD and the Farm Credit System among others. He holds a bachelors and masters in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri.
Ag Risk Management Advisor
Tommy owns and operates Ag Bull Media, a vocal and video podcast. He developed an interest in managing risk when he attended a class field trip to the Chicago Board of Trade in High School. Tommy became a recognized member of the CBOT and CME group on his 21st birthday and has maintained this status for over 25 years. In his tenure with ATI, Tommy has worked with customers across the corn belt with a focus in North Dakota and the Red River Valley. Tommy is also a regular guest commentator for RFD-TV, U.S. Farm Report, and This Week in Agribusiness.
Senior Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Director of Purdue Extension
In this role, Jason leads the statewide public engagement and research-based education in Agricultural and Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development, Health and Human Sciences, and Economic and Community Development. As Assistant Vice President for Engagement, Jason provides leadership in university-wide initiatives designed to connect Purdue expertise and resources to statewide needs and forming effective partnerships to grow the state economy and improve the quality of life for Indiana’s residents.
Prior to being named Director of Extension, Jason served as Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In that role, he served as the Bank’s regional economist and representative in the state of Nebraska, recruited and worked closely with the Branch's board of directors, and briefed the Kansas City Fed's president—a member of the Federal Open Market Committee—on economic and business activity in the state. In addition, Jason led several Federal Reserve efforts to track agricultural and rural economies, including the quarterly publication of the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions and the Federal Reserve System’s Agricultural Finance Databook. He also managed the Main Street Economist, a bi-monthly publication covering economic issues affecting rural areas, and the Nebraska Economist, a quarterly publication providing insights into the Nebraska economy. Previously, he served as economist and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Jason is a nationally recognized expert in agricultural and rural issues. He has published more than 60 research articles in academic and Federal Reserve publications on topics such as land values, entrepreneurship, demographics, the growth of knowledge-based activity in rural America, the use of electronic commerce in agricultural industries, and the growth of value-added food manufacturing activity. Jason speaks frequently to a wide range of business, financial and policy audiences across the United States and internationally. His research on the agricultural and rural economy has been quoted by policy officials, researchers, and leading media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times and USA Today. In addition, Jason has been interviewed on CNBC and Fox Business and provided testimony on agricultural credit conditions to congressional subcommittees.
Farmer, World Record Soybean Yield Champion
Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University
Michael Langemeier joined Purdue University in July 2012. Michael’s Extension and research interests include cropping systems, benchmarking, strategic management, cost of production, and technical and economic efficiency. Most of Michael’s research has focused on the efficiency of farms and ranches, and crop and livestock enterprise production costs and efficiency. He has also conducted research related to tillage systems, biomass crops and the tradeoff between crop rotation profitability and water quality.
Prior to arriving at Purdue, Michael spent 22 years in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. In addition to working on Extension and research projects, Michael taught courses in economic theory and farm management and worked closely with the Kansas Farm Management Association. He also conducted workshops for feed mill managers, emphasizing the importance of tracking financial performance, benchmarking and capital budgeting.
In addition to conducting numerous workshops and presenting Extension and research information to numerous audiences in the United States, Michael has conducted workshops and given presentations in Australia, China, Ecuador, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Tanzania. He is currently involved in agribenchmark, an international benchmarking group centered in Germany.
Michael received B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a doctorate from Purdue University. Michael’s family operates farms in eastern Nebraska.
Deputy Assistant Administrator
Jake works on a wide variety of pesticide issues within EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. One of Jake’s priorities is to help EPA achieve its endangered species protection goals related to pesticide decisions. Immediately before joining EPA, Jake worked for over a decade in the nonprofit sector on natural resource conservation and chemical regulatory issues. Jake has also represented the regulated community as an environmental lawyer in private practice. Jake strives to bring his insights from working with the private sector and environmental groups to find practical, fair, efficient, and durable solutions to how EPA regulates pesticide and other chemicals. Jake has published widely on wildlife conservation issues and is the co-editor of Endangered Species Act: Law, Policy, and Perspectives (3rd ed, 2021).
Patty raises corn and soybeans with her husband, Dave, her children, Shelby and Chris, and son-in-law Ethan, near Jackson Center, Ohio. Mann Farms is a family-owned grain operation and strives for high standards and commitment to excellence by engaging in ethical, honest production practices and environmental stewardship. Patty has been involved for many years with the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association, serving in leadership roles with both.
Vice President, Market Intelligence
United Soybean Board
Seth Meyer (invited)
Dr. Seth Meyer was appointed USDA’s Chief Economist in January of 2020, returning to USDA after two years. Prior to his return, Seth was a Research Professor and the Associate Director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri. FAPRI is well known for its agricultural policy and market analysis, being called on by Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its insight into commodity production, price, farm income and trade impacts from various agricultural policies including Farm Bill proposals, trade agreements and disruptions, and crop insurance.
Dr. Meyer was previously the head of the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) in the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), the agency at USDA charged with bringing together USDA resources in the assessment of crops around the world. The OCE also publishes those finding in the ‘WASDE’ report which is closely watched by agricultural markets here and abroad.
Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University
National Agronomy Manager
Whitney Monin is a self-proclaimed plant nerd with agricultural roots. She is an engaging speaker who is passionate about providing agronomic solutions to farmers. Monin holds bachelor’s degrees in agriculture and communications and a master’s degree in integrated plant and soil science from the University of Kentucky.
Hybrid Product Breeders Manager, AgReliant Genetics
Mike Popelka, Ph.D. manages AgReliant Genetics hybrid product breeding, focusing on developing unique and highly productive corn hybrids. He holds a doctorate in plant breeding from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Science in agronomy and crop science from Kansas State University. He is based in Hesston, Kansas.
Dr. Cristie Preston
Agriculture has always been an integral part of Dr. Cristie Preston’s life. She grew up in southwest Virginia and had interest in crop and animal agriculture since an early age. Once she began college, she initially chose to study animal science but switched to soil science. Dr. Preston attributes her decision partly to an influential professor who told her, “You can’t understand animals until you understand what they eat.” She received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and a Master of Science degree in crop and soil environmental science from Virginia Tech. Dr. Preston holds a Ph.D. in agronomy, focusing on soil fertility from Kansas State University. While completing her advanced degrees, Dr. Preston conducted more than six years of field and lab research. Dr. Preston has experience in laboratory research measuring volatility loss from urea-based fertilizers. Her field research has focused on phosphorus availability and the interactions with tillage and placement. She also has extensive experience in working with large data sets and analysis. Her main priority is helping growers to identify yield-limiting factors and fix those issues as cost efficiently as possible.
Senior Vice President, Americas Region
Raby leads operations for North and South America including Sales, Service, Parts, Dealer Development, Marketing and Product Management.
Owner & Manager
Ben owns and manages every aspect of Blue Diamond Farming Company including crop production, from applications to planting and harvesting, from marketing to delivery. Ben has been farming as the Blue Diamond Farming Company since 1993. Prior to this, Ben attended Jesup High School and served as Jesup FFA President from 1978-1979. He then went on to Iowa State University, where he graduated in 1984 with a degree in Ag Business. He is a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. Afterward, he earned his MBA from the University of Chicago in 1989. Between school and farming, he worked for Wells Fargo Bank and the United Bank of Switzerland in their Wall Street, Chicago, and Basel, Switzerland offices. In 1994, Ben was chosen for an Eisenhower Fellowship. It was then that he moved to Hungary to use his banking and farm management skills in aiding local officials in adjusting to free trade. In 2001, Ben won the Farm Journal Top Producer of the Year award. Ben continues to run BDFC today using innovative and cutting-edge technology and management practices.
Director of Carbon Policy & Strategic Partnerships
As Director of Carbon Policy & Strategic Partnerships, Meredith works across topic areas, including policy, science, demand, and supply, to bring agriculture to the forefront of solutions for climate change. A key component of her role at Indigo includes leading Indigo’s engagement with NGOs, policy, and academic partners. Previously, Meredith worked in sustainability consulting at Quantis, leading sector teams advising clients across the food, apparel, and cosmetics industries. She holds a Masters in Sustainable Systems from the University of Michigan and a BA in Environment, Economics, and Politics from Claremont McKenna College.
Vice President Research – Chief Scientist
Dr. Upendra Singh is Vice President Research – Chief Scientist with the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He has more than 35 years of experience in soil-plant-nutrient dynamics and fertilizer research and development/application of crop simulation models and decision support systems (DSS) in agricultural research, extension, and decision-making. Singh coordinates and conducts research in collaboration with National and International Agricultural Research Centers on better understanding and quantification of nutrient dynamics and environmental processes; development/co-development and evaluation of new fertilizer formulations; and development, field testing, and application of decision support software to simulate biophysical processes, with special emphasis on sustainable agriculture, crop yield forecasting, nutrient dynamics and environmental quality. He has conducted research projects and training programs in over 36 countries and has more than 200 publications. Dr. Singh’s team at IFDC conducted the greenhouse and laboratory studies on the evaluation of enhanced efficiency fertilizers under the Joint EPA-USDA Partnership and Competition on Next Gen Fertilizers to Advance Agricultural Sustainability in the United States.
Luther Smith, CAE
Director of Certification, American Society of Agronomy
Sr. Manager, Grower Engagement
Dr. Ryan Stockwell serves as the Sr. Manager, Partner & Grower Advocacy, at Indigo Ag. Previously, he served as the Director of Sustainable Agriculture for the National Wildlife Federation. In that role, he led the cover crops program, including policy development in the Farm Bill, research coordination, farmer champion communication training and other strategies to communicate regenerative agriculture to farmers in ways that best meet their decision-making methodologies. Ryan has a PhD in history from the University of Missouri, a Master’s in History from Miami University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Change and Development from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. In his spare time, he farms near Medford, WI.
Extension Field Crop Pathologist
Darcy Telenko, Ph.D. is an expert in the biology and management of soil-borne and foliar pathogens in crops. Dr. Telenko is a native of western New York and received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree in plant and soil science from Southern Illinois University, and a doctorate in plant pathology and crop sciences from North Carolina State University.
Mary Kay Thatcher
Senior Manager, Federal Government and Industry Relations
Mary Kay has been on Syngenta’s Government Relations team since 2018. She is the company’s liaison in Washington, DC and the “go to” on policy matters. A lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation for 31 years, her work has primarily focused on issues covering farm programs, crop insurance, conservation and credit. She is a fifth-generation Iowa farmer and graduate of Iowa State University where she earned a degree in animal science and agricultural economics.
Channel Partner Manager
Darrin Unruh is a regenerative ag specialist for the Western region at Indigo Ag. He grew up on a farm in Reno County, Kansas, running a 4010 John Deere tractor pulling a four-bottom plow. Since then, Darrin has come full circle in terms of his views towards soil health. He took his first Holistic Resource management course in the early 90’s. Along with his brother, Stacy, he runs a farming partnership consisting of approximately 770 acres that is managed biologically and has a cow/calf operation that is focused on flex grazing to improve soil health.
Grain Marketing Specialist
Ed is a Farm Futures contributing editor who writes the Advanced Marketing Class column in Farm Futures. In 2018 he published a second edition of his book, "Grain Marketing is Simple (it’s just not easy)." http://www.cffm.umn.edu/simple/. Ed was instrumental in reinventing the fantasy grain marketing learning tool “Commodity Challenge” https://bit.ly/LearnCommodityChallenge. He has been highly rated from attendees the last 5+ Commodity Classic sessions.
National Program Leader for Land and Air Management
Peter Vadas is a National Program Leader for Land and Air Management with the USDA- Agricultural Research Service Office of National Programs. He leads research programs on soil and air management and forage and rangeland agroecosystems. Prior to joining National Programs in 2019, Dr. Vadas spent nearly 20 years as a research scientist with ARS in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, conducting research on nutrient management for sustainable animal production systems. Dr. Vadas earned a B.S. in Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Soil Science at the University of Delaware.
J. Isaac Wolford, CCA-CB
Agronomist, Chair - ICCA, CCA
Isaac Wolford is a 24-year Certified Crop Adviser from West Virginia and located within the Mid-Atlantic CCA Region. Isaac has been an active board member for many years. Isaac is currently the ICCA Vice-Chair and Mid-Atlantic CCA Chair.